For the past year I have been seriously considering hanging up my skies partly because of the number of horrendous ski accidents I kept hearing about and partly because skiing is regarded as a young ‘persons’ sport. What changed my mind was an unexpected invitation to ski in Serre Cavelier in the Southern Alps, a place I had not previously skied and was interested to find out more. Admittedly many of my non-skiing friends thought I was quite mad to go especially as last year’s accident statistics had hit an all time high but looking back now I have absolutely no regrets. This trip presented me with the perfect opportunity to regain lost confidence and realise that skiing is still for all ages and there was no rhyme or reason to give up. Slopes are safer providing skiers ski within their limits, and remarkably ski conditions this time couldn’t have been better. 

Serre Cavalier is not a particularly fashionable resort but the skiing is good and suited my karma perfectly. This region consists of a string of small villages mostly with inter connecting north facing ski runs and a  2 euro bus service that connects to other villages. About twenty kilometres away is the ancient town of Briancon, a former fortress and some 1200 meters above sea level. We stayed in the village of La Salle-les-Alpes part of the Villeneuve commune,a charming, traditional village with narrow cobbled streets lined with small wooden fronted shops, cosy bars and traditional restaurants.

This time we flew British Airways from Gatwick to Grenoble and were met by Zenith ski holidays rep, James, who also drove us the two-hour journey and deposited us directly outside our chalet aptly called Le Lodge. Once inside Max, our excellent chalet ‘girl’ greeted us, showed us our rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and offered us tea and a freshly baked Carrot cake. Grabbing ski socks we then dashed off to Brechu Sports shop to be kitted out with skis, boots and helmets – now compulsory these days. To my relief my hired boots turned out to be a perfect fit, badly fitting boots often ruin a ski holiday and why I am so carefully about choosing the right boots. That evening we walked on icy snow to the ‘Nordic Baths’, if anything an unforgettable experience. On arrival we were asked to changed into our swimming costumes we had been instructed to bring with us and given plastic shoes and a fluffy white towelling robe to wear before being taken along a snow-covered path for about fifty yards in minus 10 degrees to one of several large outdoor hot water tubs where we de-robed and gingerly stepped into to the hot bubbling water avoiding slipping on its iced sides. Five minutes later and we were casually sipping champagne and later ‘dinner’ which consisted of several varieties of hot kababs – a very novice way of dining out!. After about half an hour I decided it was time to go back inside although you can stay as long as you like, and changed back into my warm clothes still feeling ‘boiling hot’ and finished ‘dinner’ seated outside besides a large open fire later to be joined by the rest of the group. However, our evening antics continued, returning to our chalet around 11 and looking forward to my warm bed, to our dismay we found the chalet’s front door was locked and nobody had a key which left poor Katie, owner of Zenith holidays and our host desperately searching for a spare key, Rather than wait outside in the cold we all dived into a nearby cosy bar full of trendy skiers simply and joined in the fun over a couple of Cognacs – and that was just the first day!  

Katie also kindly acted as our ski guide and the next day took us up the Frejus gondola to Le Clot ski area where we spent the best part of three hours, almost non-stop skiing on the many well-groomed pistes, an incredible ski experience stopping. Here the views of the rest of Alps have to be seen to be believed. We stopped for a much-needed lunch break at the delightful Cafe du Soleil where besides our delicious lunch, we were treated to large woolly foot warmers during lunch while ski boots were placed on heated poles, a nice touch! 

There is a lot to be said about safety on slopes and if anything Serre Cavelier meets all requirements. Signage everywhere is excellent, runs clearly marked and there are plenty of warning signs when two runs merge. One thing I did notice is the respect faster skiers gave to slower skiers. Hopefully skiers, like car driver are becoming aware that taking unnecessary risks often ends in tears, and respecting other skiers on slopes is by far the best way to enjoy skiing. .



It’s difficult to imagine  we’re already into the second week of January and Christmas is all but forgotten.The days leading up the Christmas had me running ragged with so much to do and see there were parties to to and shopping to do but I do remember thinking how glad I’d be ‘when all was over’. Finding elusive gifts in packed over-heated shops and endless wrapping of present left me utterly exhausted. Then there were the invites to parties, lunches and charity carol concerts but I shouldn’t complain, Christmas only comes but once a year. 

This year’s celebrations kicked off with a couple of fun lunches at my golf club. The first was White Lodge’s Ladies Christmas lunch where most end up dressing up in colourful Christmas outfits. After playing 18 holes in almost sub-zero temperatures, we were greeted with hot bowls of soup on our return to the clubhouse helped defrost my near frozen fingers and toes. During lunch various awards were presented and to my amazement I was awarded  ‘the most improved player of 2017’  and presented with silver cup with my name already engraved on has a place of pride in my glass cabinet. I can’t remember the last time I won an award but this was quite special. 

The Turkey Trot was the second golf lunch but this time it was a mixed fours. This time I played with Elaine and a couple of guys I’d previously not met but who were great company. As our group was the second to last to tee off, we arrived late at the clubhouse when most were already hoeing into the their Roast Turkey lunch.  Playing a muddy course in cold weather is not a favourite pastime but I somehow survived so you can imagine my surprise when it was announced I had the highest Stapleford score for the ladies and was presented with a small beautifully wrapped Christmas present as my prize! . 

My favourite Christmas party of 2017 was without a doubt Erica’s, my golfing buddy! Arriving with Christmas present in one hand, I was greeted by Erica’s two delightful grand-daughters 6 and 8 (the youngest is the splitting image of Erica) and told me in no uncertain terms where to hang my coat and where to leave my present – so sweet!! This was a joint party with her two daughters Ariane and Henrietta, a much sought after DJ similar to Fatboy Slim, and a delightful mix of their’s and Erica friends. The champagne flowed all evening and there were plenty of familiar friends to chat to!

Finally down to Bath for Christmas and how nice it was to catch up with family and all the great nieces, it’s amazing how quickly they grow. Renzo the son of my youngest niece, Rosy’s is fifteen and nearly as tall as me, whereas Felicity or Flic as she is known who’lll be 21 in February and the eldest daughter of my niece.Penny, already towers over me This time I drove to Bath early Christmas morning when traffic was light and weather bright and sunny. I arrived in time for Rosy’s annual Christmas morning drinks party at her Bathwick Boatman restaurant and attended mostly by locals. Early afternoon we drove over to Penny’s house in Richmond Heights for Christmas lunch in time to watch the Queen’s speech.  Altogether 16 of us sat down for Christmas lunch, sadly a few missing faces who have parted ways – my sister’s husband Russel and our mother, and Penny’s father-law who sadly passed away just before Christmas.

Penny produced a delicious Christmas lunch and an enormous turkey with all the trimmings and afterwards we sat in the lounge while presents were distributed by the younger family members left under the Christmas tree. Often wrong presents ended up with the wrong person but done in fun. Following the distribution of presents, it was entertainment time with each child demonstrating their musical skills from playing La La Land on the piano to ten-year old Sophie, Lucy and David’s youngest daughter, who played several renditions on her clarinet. Four days later and I was off to Sandbanks catching up friends Fanny and Robert, a skiing chum Nellie for some more fun times!!


Once again as the social secretary of the Lawn Tennis Writers Awards lunch, it is up to to organise our annual  awards lunch which took place 28th November last year – apologies for the late blog but unfortunately the days leading up to Christmas were far more time consuming.than anticipated, and ended up dealing with various unexpected issuit es but more importantly I am delighted to report the lunch went off smoothly even though it was a bit of daunting experience as Roehampton Tennis Club were the lunch was held, was a new and untried venue.   

With no committee meetings leading up to the event bar one held during the 02 ATP World finals two weeks beforehand, it was left up to me to organise trophies, raffle and auction prizes, finalise menu and wine choices (thankfully Wimbledon Beer agreed to sponsor the beer ( and various other issues that arise when organising a lunch of 160 guests. For the first time in a decade the committee had decided to do away with programmes and replace them with laminated sheets with the menu printed on one side and raffle and auction prizes the other. Admittedly this year’s lunch was a different kettle of fish compared to holding it at the AELTC but thankfully all worked out on the day. Normally the day I spend a couple of hours in the dining room sorting out a table plan which is then typed out in readiness for the lunch the next day. Not so this year, Roehampton had other ideas and asked me to do this on-line from a drawing emailed to me which inevitably bore little resemblance to where the tables were placed but somehow it worked and only ended up changing a couple table number and why the table numbers weren’t in sequence  However, I was more than a little surprised to find everything in place when I arrived early at the club.  Fortunately it was a beautiful Autumn day and sun streamed through the large glass windows on one side of the oblong shaped dining room that over looked the clubs 9 hole golf course lighting up the entire room which contrasted nicely with the blue upholstered chairs and carpets. 

In all around 160 guests from the world of tennis turned up and tables representing the All England club, Wimbledon Foundation, LTA, ATP, WTA, ITF, Queen’s Club, Sky and BBC were full to capacity plus many from the media and others associated with the world of tennis. Clearly a good sign that we had reached maximum number of guest and seemingly reflects on the event’s popularity. By tradition LTWA’s former treasurer, Barry Newcombe chooses the menu and this time was another well-balanced choice enjoyed by all. The service was faultless and helped enormously by James who bent backwards to make sure everything ran smoothly throughout the afternoon,  a great relief for me.    

During the lunch chairman Barry Flatman delivered speeches and presented the LTWA award to Jo Konta who sat on the top with her manager, Vicki Brook who, ironically is the daughter of AELTC’s chairman Philip Brook also on the same table. Jo gave a short but sweet speech while Alan Jones, former coach of Jo Durie was our award winner for the Services To Tennis Award who delivered a longer but in parts amusing speech. 

Finally, it was up to Sky TV’s Marcus Buckland to conducts the Raffle and auction which he does with great aplomb each year, and has everyone in fits of laughter.  He is a dab hand at creating amusing quips at and raising bids for auction prizes with TV presenter Annabel Croft helping out. In all nearly £4,000 was raised for Give it Your Max charity, whose president is former top tennis player John Beddington.

By 5 pm the room had cleared,and I was finally able to relax with a few friend’s at the clubs bar – phew!



A full hand of the world’s top eight tennis players is what was needed to cap a successful year-end for the ATP’s Tour Finals at the 02 last November. Had all top eight players competed it would have made a perfect end to the year. However, that was not to be with the withdrawal of several top players including Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka although this was compensated by a possible final between the world’s number one and two, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer who between them hold all four Grand Slams titles. Rafa was drawn to play in the Pete Slue Sampras group along with Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and DominicThiem, and Roger in Group Boris Becker alongside two young up and coming players, Jack Sock and Alexandra Zverev, with Marin Cilic making up the quartet. Exciting tennis was anticipated even though the tournament had been blighted by the withdrawal of several top ten players for a variety of reasons. Although this left the tournament bereft of several top names at least the prospect of a ‘dream’ final was something to look forward to. However, that was not to be. After playing his first round match against Belgium’s David Goffin on the Monday, which he lost in three tight sets Nadal was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to on going knee problems. His early withdrawal was definitely a blow to the tournament and new sponsors Nitto even though he was promptly replaced by another up and coming player, Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. 

It was a big disappointment to see the possibility of a dream final disappear, but hopes rested on at least seeing Roger reach his 7th ATP tour finals. All went well for his first three matches. and Roger played sublime tennis winning all three round robin matches to reach the semi finals where he faced a revitalised David Goffin in a match most expected Roger to win. Sadly that was not to be and he lost in straight sets and his chance to win a 7th ATP tour final dashed. A distinctly upset Federer said after his match,  ‘it was an off day’. In the other final between Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock was a much more lively affair with Grigor winning in three sets to reach his first ATP tour finals. However the disappointment of not seeing Federer in the final was thankfully compensated by an exciting finals between Dimitrov and Sock with Dimitrov beating his younger opponent in three sets. I haven’t mentioned doubles although I watched several matches but once Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares lost in their semi finals, more attention was paid to the rest of the singles matches. 

The media centre was again in the boondocks but at least the facilities were good and included a Media restaurant which served different menus each day, and a much appreciated free bar albeit limited to mostly wine and beer. This is where we could disappear and catch up with friends from the world of tennis. My only complaint was the time it takes to travel from South West London to the 02 each day, usually around an hour and half each way. One particularly sunny day I took the Thames ferryboat from the Embankment to the 02 which although adds an extra 30 minutes to the trip but is worthwhile and quite fascinating to see how much this part of London has developed since the 2012 Olympic games.

Thursday is always the day when the Lawn Tennis Writers committee meets and that means getting to the 02  by 10.45, when finally plans for the LTWA Awards lunch were thrashed out – but more about that in my next blog………!  

For further information on the Nitto ATP Finals go to





It was good to see so many familiar names and faces from the world of skiing at former Olympic gold medalist Franz Klammer’s now famous Wooden Spoon golf event which this year was staged at the Royal mid-Surrey Golf Club on a particularly warm sunny autumn day after a lapse of four years. Everybody who has played this event in past events remembers fondly the welcoming hospitality and bonhomie extended to us by Austria and various resort sponsors yet four years ago we all said a fond farewell to Franz and his Wooden Spoon golf day for the last time when the final event was staged in Austria in the canton of Carinthia, Franz’s home territory and where he learnt to ski as a youngster, For four memorable days a group of around thirty keen golfers and ski journalists (who also play golf) were regally entertained by the Austrian and Carinthian Tourist Offices and over four days and where we played three superb courses including Bad Kleinenkirkheim’s local golf course and Slovenia’s Royal Lake Bled.  The final evening was celebrated in style with a Gala dinner in the Grand Hotel in Bled and several fond farewell speeches were made plus millions of thanks to Franz and sponsors. I remember vividly giving Franz a farewell kiss almost in tears thanking him profusely for the wonderful golf memories and generous hospitality. Not for one minute did I think the event would be re-instated four years later but how wrong I was!.  

Seemingly through popular demand it was decided to stage the event this year at the Royal mid-Surrey golf club which turned out to be the perfect venue for the occasion. Many familiar faces from the world of skiing gathered that day including sixty keen golfers besides a smattering of ski journalists but most were from the travel trade and here to compete in a Texas Scramble that kicked off at mid-day after a delicious brunch in the spacious club house. I was given hole number 5 as my start hole which was somewhere in the boondocks but fortunately I had arranged to have a buggy and with some blind navigating managed to locate the hole before the horn was blasted as the sign to commence play – in Stapleford format.  Although my golf veered from brilliant to abysmal, my companions were fun to play with. Several holes were hosted by individual Austrian Ski resorts where kiosks had been erected and where we offered a variety of typical Austrian delicacies to eat, schnapps and Austrian wine to drink which I carefully avoided until the last couple of holes when I simply couldn’t resist a large gulp of schnapps to keep me going for the next couple of holes. 

As soon as we returned to the club house and handed in our cards, it was a quick shower and change into evening outfits for the Gala dinner before joining the others in the club’s bar for jovial hour catching up with everyone’s exploits and gossip. Some non playing guests were given golf lessons by a couple of the club’s resident pros and that also included Eddie the Eagle who later admitted this was his ever golf lesson. Besides former Olympians Eddie Edwards, golf medalist Franz Klammer, there were also several  past and present Olympic skiers on the guest list including Grahame Bell, Konrad Bartelski, Amy Williams, Chemmie Alcott to name but a few. It was by far a most entertaining evening where many of great and good from the world of skiing rubbed shoulders. The food was delicious and drinks flowed all evening…… and oh yes, delighted to say I wasn’t the recipient of the now famous Franz Klammer’s Wooden Spoon trophy, (awarded to the player with the least number of points), but can’t remember who did win suffice to say it is now regarded as a salubrious honour! 

The good news is that the Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon event will definitely be back next year – can’t wait!!


It’s this time of the year, the start of the pre-skiing season when resorts and travel agents launch new ideas and products and invite a bunch of ski journalists to a variety of jammy receptions in central London as a means of informing us of their latest innovations. Admittedly, it is that time of the year when most journalists are on the look out for new ideas to write about whether it’s anything remotely to do with newly opened or refurbished hotels, restaurants or new inter-connecting ski lifts and runs, but it is always a perfect sounding boards to arrange future press trips and catch up with other ski journalists who are rarely seen outside the ‘Silly Ski Season’ except perhaps on the odd ski trip.

The first up was Switzerland’s posh reception at the Lansborough Hotel near Hyde Park Corner, one of London’s most expensive and luxury hotels. On arrival we were all given small white cards with sayings on them, mine for example, simply read, ‘Swiss Air’, while others had more exotic statements! Nobody quite knew what this was all about but we were firmly instructed not to lose our cards. Once ushered into a long reception room, waiters greeted us with trays laden with large glasses of red and white Swiss wine and during the course of the next hour we were lavishly entertained with delicious tasting canapes while empty glasses constantly replenished. Half way through the evening a small video presentation was shown describing many of Switzerland’s famous resorts, mountains and destinations. This was followed by a fun but fitting travel game. If whatever was written on your white card fitted the missing words that came up on the screen relating to various advertisements and statements about Switzerland, you were rewarded with a small prize. Fortunately mine was the simplest; as soon as a large aeroplane appeared on the screen all I had to do was wave my card and yell. ‘Swiss Air’. My gift was a bright red cricket ball with the words Ice Cricket St Moritz emblazoned in silver on it  However, some bright spark with a sense of humour had us all in fits of laughter when she kept yelling, Theresa May’ to whatever question that came up, for example, when asked to name a famous Swiss mountain, up came the answer Teresa May!. 

The next reception was at the Goring Hotel where once the entire Middleton family were ensconced during their daughter’s Kate’s marriage to Prince William. Now I understand why! This is a delightfully run family hotel with a deep sense of tradition, staff are all extremely polite and helpful. This time it was St Moritz’s Klum hotel’s turn to launch new ideas and this reception turned out to be another delightful evening where champagne flowed and canepes were plentiful. This time we were given a fascinating presentation about St Moritz and neighbouring villages and once again available press ski trips were discussed. 

Following St Moritz the next week was the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show in Battersea, which was as much fun for punters and it was for journalists. here was certainly plenty to see and do to keep everyone happy and fully occupied. Besides the slope style skiing demonstrations there were several receptions to go and the first one kicked off with the Powdair and Snow-Camp which aoffered delicious salamis, Palma hams and a selection of local cheeses plus unlimited red and white wine. Next port of call was France’s Morzine Avoriaz resorts, and this was followed by Utah’s Park city, which gave out a goodie bags full of useful ski items. By this time I needed a bit of rest and went off to watch Graham Bell conducting a Q and A with some of our Olympic skiers taking part in next year’s Olympics in PyeongChang who talked about their training, hard work and rewards. Finally, I ended up at the Austrian Tourist Board stand for a ‘glass or two of schnapps’ but as I don’t drink schnapps I ended with a glass of white wine instead. Somehow I managed to win a prize for guessing the right Schnapps flavours and won a towel – my third this year!

If all accounts this year’s Daily Telegraph Ski Show was one of the best, and very entertaining and good fun – can’t wait for next year’s!.




A chance email to PR John Collard Managing Director of Sports Impact regarding his client, Royal mid Surrey Golf Club (near Twickenham Rugby ground) as a possible venue for the Austrian Tourist Board who were looking for a suitable golf club to re-instate the renowned Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon golf tournament, an event that was last held in the UK four years ago. led to an unexpected invitation to take part in a special media golf day at the club. My instructions were to arrive by id-day and as luck would have it, the warm, sunny weather was perfect for a day of golf. Proceedings kicked off with a delicious lunch in the Clubhouse restaurant and hosted by Bernhard Gallacher, who is attached to Royal mid Surrey. It was good to see Bernard looking fir and well. Most remember when he suffered a near fatal heart attack which seemingly hasn’t diminished his interests in golf although he enjoys reminding you of the quick thinking people with him at the time who immediately administered CPR and called for an ambulance.The rest is now history, and in his element welcoming the media to Royal mid Surrey Golf Club. 

Following his welcome speech, we all sat down to a delicious lunch. I was seated between Tom, a golf journalist from Golf Digest and Luke Edgecum, the club’s secretary who during the course of our conversation, kindly offered me a Four Ball for the Lawn Tennis Writers’s Annual Awards lunch charity raffle which I organise each year –  I’m always on the prowl for raffle prizes. This year’s lunch is at Roehampton Tennis Club instead of the All England Club where it’s usually held but due to continuing construction work on Court One’s retractable roof and the refurbishment of Centre Court’s debenture lounge there’s literally no room at the inn this year.

After lunch we were asked to assemble at first hole of JH Taylor course in readiness for our tee times in groups of four, my group consisted of Tom who I sat next, another journalist from Golf News and the club’s Golf Manager, Paul Crowe.  Throughout Paul was very helpful in explaining the various hidden and tricky challenges on the course as well telling me all about the club’s club’s history. The course is mostly flat but interesting to play, although the constant noise of planes from nearby Heathrow airport can prove a bit distracting at times. Seemingly members are immune to the noise? Over the past few years several holes have been redesigned to make the course more challenging including a couple of long par 5’s. My claim to fame was a perfect pitch and putt on hole 11 in front of Bernard Gallagher who waiting to be interviewed by Sky TV. My 7 iron shot landed a couple of feet from the green, about ten feet from the flag. Somehow I managed a execute a perfect pitch shot and the ball obediently rolled to within in a foot of the hole, and from there was able to putt in one! What luck! Bernard even congratulated me on my perfect pitch and putt.

All in all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable day, even my golf didn’t let me down finishing a couple of shots below my handicap! 

Whenever time allows I always make a point of attending the annual Southampton Boat Show and in the past the weather has been kind, mostly glorious sunny weather and perfect for messing about on boats. Most of the top yacht manufacturers are moored on the water, and  part of the exhibition. The good weather is possibly one of the reasons the Show has been so so successful in the past and the most attended in the UK. Thankfully this year the weather was reasonably warm and sunny for most of the day but towards the end of the afternoon black clouds appeared on the horizon and soon followed by torrents of rain. Fortunately by that time I had visited most of the stands I needed to and chatted to most of the people I wanted to see.  

Prior to the Boat Show, I  went to Hugh Jamieson funeral in nearby Bosham, Hugh, a former colleague who wrote on sports for several national newspapers including tennis which is how we met a couple of decades ago. A few years ago he suffered a near fatal heart attack and was whisked off Southampton General Hospital who, according to Hugh, ‘did everything to save my life’ and lived to tell the tale. It was after hearing this that the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association decided to donate money raised at their Annual Awards lunch charity raffle to Southampton’s heart division to go towards a much-needed  piece of equipment. In all we raised over £3,000, and Hughie and the hospital were over the moon. Later he sent me a personal note of thanks. 

But back to the Boat Show and my first port of call was the SunSail stand for an invitation to drinks and a presentation, which I found interesting but it was sad to learn how much damage Hurricane Irma had inflicted on Sunsail’s fleet based in and around the Virgin Gorda. Most boats had been systematically damaged or destroyed and apparently not recoverable under their insurance. Gin and tonics were on offer but fortunately I’m not a G & T person and happily declined just as well as the next port of call was the Sunseeker luxury motor yachts stand where champagne or rather prosecco flowed, plus lots of delicious eats and canepes.  After a fascinating presentation where we were told among other facts and figures, is that sales were on the increase despite Brexit, Afterwards I looked around a couple of their luxury yachts,  and have to say the interior design is well thought out. 

After bumping into more friends and acquaintances from the sailing world, I decided to call it a day and drive back to London, this time not via Sandbanks as first planned. 



Each year, the already well established ski guide, ‘Where to Ski and Snowboard’ and co-authored by Chris Gill and Dave Watts hold their annual launch party at the Liberal Club in Westminster usually during the first week of September marking what is referred to as the beginning of the ‘Silly Ski Season’ and thus followed by a series of ski lunches, launches and parties! This event though, is always well attended by the great and the good from the world of skiing and this year’s party was no exception, and full of familiar faces. This is always a good sign to kick-start the silly season although it felt a bit strange having to think about the forthcoming winter season when London was and still is experiencing unseasonably warm Autumn! And this all prior to the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show at the end of October.  

This year’s launch party, sponsored jointly by two well-known ski resorts, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Italy’s Alta Badia, was a jolly affair. Ironically, the evening’s highlight (after various speeches by resort representatives), it was former Olympic skier Konrad Bartelski turn to pick out a couple of business cards from a large glass bowl which we had been asked to leave on arrival. The first card to be pulled out was that of Frazer Wilkins’s who runs the Snow-Wise website and I was particularly thrilled he’d won the holiday to Kitzbuhel as both his young sons are keen skiers as well as tennis players. It was while congratulating Fraser that someone gentle tapped me on the shoulder to inform me my name had been the next to be called and understandably I was all but speechless to find I had won the second prize, a ski holiday for four guest to Alta Badia. You have to understand I NEVER win anything and why I so surprised. So here I am with a free ski holiday to Alta Badia for four friends! The only drawback is flights aren’t included but that’s not an insurmountable problem!

A couple of days later it was Utah’s Park City’s turn and this year’s party was held in the heart of Soho in the premises known as the Marquis Club in 70’s where non-stop live music was played by bands some who became household names. Now its simply known as ‘100 Wardour Street’, a large elegant bar and restaurant. This party though was a lot smaller compared to the launch of ‘Where to ski and snowboard’, but just as much fun. The other attraction of these functions is the ‘goody bags’ presented to us on leaving and it’s of little surprise at the amount of  ‘stuff’ collected from ‘goody bags although most usually contain a few useful gifts or two. In Park City’s bag was a useful battery free spotlight torch that only needs to be re-charged from a USB port. Following Park City’s party and a couple of days later was ABTOF’s annual sit down lunch at the Tara Hotel in Kensington. The format of the lunch is that everyone connected to the travel trade change tables after each course while journalists stay put. The advantages of this format is that you have a far better chance of meeting and chatting to a lot more people connected to the travel trade than you would normally! 

Well that was the week that was – more to follow  – all to be recorded in the next blogs!




These days it is not often a mouth-watering invite plops on the doormat. This one was to attend a high goal polo match at Guards Polo Club sponsored by Land Rover taking place at the end of August which I was delighted to accept. After spending a couple of wonderful weeks in Sandbanks I raced back to a deserted London on Saturday of the August Bank holiday weekend for Sunday’s polo match. A cloudless blue sky greeted me on the I drove to Guards Polo club but fortunately I had chosen a light summer dress to wear with colourful wedge shoes, (for treading in divots between chukkas). It was driving through the Great Windsor Park and seeing deer meandering around the park that it occurred to me how beautiful the countryside looked in late summer, and could be forgiven for taking a short detour to lap it up before arriving at Guards Polo Club.  Apart from the park’s distractions I still managed to get there in time for the pre-lunch champagne reception held on the lawns outside Guards Polo club. Ladies were mostly in dressed in delightful Ascot type outfits and men in summer suits, it looked all very Ascot but without the hats. I soon spied my hosts  Andrew and Bee Robb chatting to other guests and was soon handed a large glass of chilled champagne. An hour we were seated at Land Rover’s large, long table for twenty odd guests full of fascinating people, my end included 26-year-old Max Charlton who I chatted to about polo, he plays off a 7 handicap and is one of UK’s youngest high handicapped.  

During the delicious three course lunch Max and Rugby star Jason Robinson gave informal chats about their respective sports presided over by radio presenter Matt Baker. First Max told us about how he started in polo and how he reached his unprecedented high handicap of 7, something many experienced players would have loved to have achieved including perhaps even Prince Charles who once boasted a handicap of 4!. Jason followed with a fascinating talk on rugby including an insight on how England won the 2003 World Cup when they played Australia in the finals, a team everyone deemed was impossible to beat, and a match mostly remembered by Johnny Wilkinson famous kick try that clinched the Cup although few actually remember the role Jason played in setting up the final try. I was duly impressed with the way Jason delivered his side of the story to a room full of club members and their guests, most of whom I feared, knew little about the game of rugby.

Following lunch, the fun started when the Land Rover Duke of Cornwall final was played between two highly competitive high goal teams, the Golden Falcons team with total handicap of 15 against Park Place with 16, the eventual winners. Both teams played outstanding quality polo and I enjoyed every minute watching it particularly the way players deftly hit balls with long sticks from both flanks. Between matches tea was served in the clubhouse and when I managed a few words with Jason and congratulated him on his talk, if anything he was a delight to talk to. Another match followed between the two losing teams of the Land Rover championships, Bridge House of Twyford with a total handicap of 16 against Shoreline also 16 handicap and another exciting match. I can’t remember what time I finally left but I do remember thinking as I drove back though Windsor Park, what a wonderful fun day, and all thanks to my hosts Andrew and Bee! 





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